Life is too short to drink bad wine. Maybe I’m a snob, but I just won’t do it anymore. If I’m out and my only options are bad, I’ll have beer or iced tea or whatever. But what to do with those sketchy bottles that end up in your cellar/home as gifts, or what about wines that you are fairly sure are well over the hill, or wine buys that you made and regret after the first bottle. Everyone has wines sitting around that they don’t want. What do you do? Re-gift them? Nope, I won’t give away wine I won’t like myself. Sell them? Nope, too much hassle and there’s not much secondary market for cheap gift wines. So what my wife and I do is BAD WINE WEDNESDAY.
Every once in a while, always on a Wednesday, we prune the cellar by grabbing a bunch of bottles that we think are going to suck. That Apothic Red someone brought over at a party. That really old Cakebread Zin bought before you knew anything about wine. That white blend that was pretty good at a local shop tasting and never tasted the same at home. That wine that you bought in multiples which underperformed last time and you think might have been heat damaged in transit. We take them, line them up on the counter, open one and sip…if it’s bad, pour it out and move on to the next. If it’s good, that’s what we’re drinking that Wednesday and they other bottles go back down for the next time around. We usually make it through a few bottles poured out before something surprises.
Tonight is our first Bad Wine Wednesday in a while…try it out, you’ll like it.
You could run one of those tasting contests out of them, like Mark Boldizar did with all the cheap old chardonnay that one time. It was funny at least.
I accumulate wines like that as well. I do usually give them away, as long as they are not really awful and/or over the hill or in bad condition. I may have no interest in that bottle of The Prisoner or Belle Glos or some generic grocery store wine that I got as a gift, but someone else usually is, and if I can identify someone who would actually appreciate them, I don’t mind giving them away even though they aren’t exciting or great wines.
I make wine at home, and I sometimes use those to top up my carboys after I sample or rack.
My latest thing is that I’ll make a mixed case, usually of some of these wines I don’t want (but which are still decent enough) and some that I do like, and I’ll give it to the priests at my Parish, so they can have them with dinner or for occasions or whatever. I actually label them with stickers to suggest which are the everyday wines and which are the better ones for nicer occasions, since I’m not sure they would recognize that just from the labels and all (these are not mostly well-known brand names).
I haven’t done this in a long time, but one thing I did at a prior large corporate office where I worked was to bring in a mixed case of wines I didn’t want (these were mostly <$10 type bottles) and I put them anonymously in the office kitchen after hours one night, with a note saying “please take one if you would like.” I think they were snapped up the next day – again, good chance the people who took them were quite happy to have a bottle of wine.
It is an interesting issue. You don’t want to give away bad wine, and you don’t want to have a reputation of giving away lousy stuff, but there are people who would be delighted to have a bottle of Apothic Red or Cakebread Zin or Yellow Tail that you don’t want, and you hate to be wasteful.
We do the same thing, coincidently on the same night. My wife and I call it “taking out the trash night”. Our garbage pickup is early Thursday morning so as soon as the garbage and recyclables are curbside on Wednesday evening, I grab a few wines I have low hopes for, and hope to get lucky. Helps trim the cellar, like you said.
Most of my wine-drinking friends are not wine geeks. They dislike my wine. (I wish they didn’t as it’s tough to be met with blank stares when I’m excited about some new wine discovery that leaves them cold.) I keep these “gift” wines to open at home for non-wine geek friends and to regift. Giving away wine I don’t like myself is the only way to ensure that the recipients will have a chance of enjoying it.
That said, I like the idea of Bad Wine Wednesday as a way of clearing out wine I acquired myself and now have doubts about… I have lots of singletons scattered around that I now wonder “why did i ever buy that?”. Setting aside one day a week to open these would help clear the backlog…
For cheap wines I am given, I usually cook with them.
For wines I have let go too long, your solution is a good one. Several years ago at a prior job, a friend and I used to do “bad” wine tastings after hours (usually just before a holiday weekend - Memorial Day or Labor Day). If the wine was good, we drank it. If it was bad, we threw it away. We would also bring a couple of good wines so that we were sure we would have something to drink.